Nuclear weapons a tangible and present crisis amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, says Nagasaki’s mayor

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On the 77th anniversary of the United States dropping an atomic bomb on Nagasaki during World War II, the city paid tribute to the survivors – while also warning of future nuclear attacks.

During a ceremony at Nagasaki Peace Park, diplomats, Nagasaki survivors, and Japanese officials observed a moment of silence to mark the bomb dropping at 11:02 am local time.

At the event, the city’s mayor reflected on current events. 

Tomihisa Taue said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “has shown the world that the use of nuclear weapons is not a groundless fear but a tangible and present crisis”.

He added the idea that countries can hold nuclear weapons without using them “is a fantasy, nothing more than a mere hope”.

Russia and Belarus were not invited to the ceremonies to mark the anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

The war in Ukraine followed just a month after “the leaders of the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China issued a joint statement saying that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” Taue noted.

A survivor said he felt an echo between what he lived through and the war in Ukraine.

“Air raid sirens wailing in Ukraine reminded me of the fear I felt when the atomic bomb was dropped,” Takashi Miata said.

Japan is the only country to have been struck by an atomic bomb during wartime.

On 9 August 1945, at least 140,000 were killed when the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Just three days later, Washington dropped another bomb on Nagasaki, killing 70,000 people.

As of March, there were 118,935 survivors in Japan. Many dealt with lasting injuries and illnesses from the explosion and radiation.